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How to Fix a Broken or Torn Nail – Quick & Easy Method

Sometimes broken nails happen! It sucks and it’s sad, but the best thing to do is fix it immediately if possible, and then hope the nail gods make that nail grow out FAST!

There are lots of ways to fix a broken nail with paper, teabags, etc. but I usually don’t have the patience. This is the technique I use, and it can last up 1 or 2 weeks for me, which is long enough for most breaks to grow out. Every once in awhile I will have to reapply the fix, but I am okay with that.

Here is my sad broken thumb, where it usually cracks. As you can see this is a good one, the crack is lifted and everything. Let’s fix it!

Torn Nail Repair - Thumb Before

What If You Can’t Fix It Now?

Sometimes you are not at home, and won’t be soon. Maybe you are at work and there isn’t super glue anywhere to be found, or you forgot to stash your nail repair kit in your purse (shame, shame!). Or maybe it’s time for bed and you can barely keep your eyes open.

Here is a really simple solution that may be a little strange, but it stops the snagging – on your hair, on your clothes, why does it want to snag on EVERYTHING? Tape to the rescue! A band-aid also works in a pinch, but be careful when you remove it – they are super sticky and can make your tear worse. I don’t recommend wrapping it all the way around so you don’t cut off your circulation, but lay it over the crack securing it from snagging on anything else. This will keep the break from spreading until you can fix it.

Torn Nail Repair - Quick Tape Fix

Quick & Easy Broken Nail Repair Steps

This fix is best for tears or breaks that are not too deep and won’t receive too much “action”.

1. Gather Your Supplies – Simple list of tools and products:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton pads, balls or pieces
  • Q-tips
  • Nail Glue – I really like IBD 5 Second Brush-On Nail Glue, it is super strong and last through many, many acetone polish removals (as long as your are not soaking your nails)
  • Cuticle stick or non-pointy tweezers
  • Buffing Bar/Stick, with multiple grades
  • Nail file

Quick Torn Nail Repair Supplies

2. Remove – Take off any old polish using your favorite nail polish remover and cotton. I like DIY glycerine acetone remover. Be careful not to snag your tear on the cotton.

3. Glue – Using the nail glue apply a generous amount to the tear, making sure to get all the area surrounding it and some right underneath the tear so the glue will bond the two halves together. Let this dry for about 10-15 seconds.

Torn Nail Repair During - Glue

4. Flatten– Use the cuticle stick to push your crack/split/flap flat. Use as little surface area of your tool as possible and apply light pressure for 30-120 seconds – long enough that when you release the pressure the tear doesn’t move and remains sealed and nice and flat.

Torn Nail Repair During - Flatten

5. Buff & Smooth – This is the only time I buff my nails, and I try to get only the glue. Once you are sure the glue is completely dry, use your buffing stick to get the glue spot smooth and flush with your natural nail. You won’t be able to smooth it all the way down, or you will take all the glue off and have to apply a second layer. Pay more attention to the edges – if you make sure the edges are flush with your nail, no one will notice a little bump.

 Torn Nail Repair During - Buffed

6. Clean Up – Use a q-tip soaked in acetone to remove any glue from your skin. Done!

Next time you paint your nails, no one will be able to tell your nail is broken, happy day!

 Torn Nail Repair After - Basecoat

Torn Nail Repair After - Painted

For this look I used:

Resources

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22 comments

  1. Alison

    Will this work for a split down the middle of the thumb nail as well. There isn’t a flap to glue them together. Any tips?

    • Hi Alison!

      I think it would work — but not hold too well. I actually haven’t had a break like that yet so I don’t have any personal experience. But I bet that the tea bag method would probably be better to give the nail split ‘something’ to adhere to, if that makes sense. Hope your nail is okay!

  2. I wish I found this page a week earlier had no tea bag and didn’t think that I could simply use the nail glue 🙁 better late than never though thanks to you I’m saved next time I have a tear

    • Darn! Breaking a nail is always so tragic. I actually haven’t tried the tea bag method yet, I think I will do that next time. For now I always carry around a brush-on super glue with me – just in case.

  3. Athina

    Will this make the broken part of the nail and the actual nail eventually reattach and continue to grow?Or is it a temporary thing??Please answer cause i just tried to fix my broken nail but i didnt have anything but a nail file,so i just smoothed the top of the broken nail and it looks to be ok but it is still broken,obviously..so are they going to reattach or am I rediculous for asking that? 😛

    • Hi Athina! So sorry your nail broke, but I assume it was below the nail tip and into the nail bed? If so I would probably use the tea bag method so that you have something there to soak up the glue, create a seal between the crack and your skin. In my experience though I have just glued these types of breaks and it worked and still grew out just fine – but it wasn’t that far down. Hope this helps!

  4. Wow! Your glue application technique for repair is so similar to mine – I use a paper clip instead of an orange stick for applying pressure.

    To be ready for the inevitable tragic broken nail, I keep a generous piece of a broken crystal file and a cool as heck, better than tape product called “Crack Attacker” tucked in my wallet. Crack Attacker can often be a total fix without needing glue.

    As long as my ninja nail repair gear is on board the nails stay unbroken, thank goodness – breaking one feels like an amputation!

    • How funny, great minds think alike I guess! I’m curious about Crack Attacker now – I looked it up and it had very mixed reviews. I’m still curious to try it though, thanks for letting me know about it.

  5. Natasha

    Life saver! just fixed a break, glad I decided to google search vs. clipping them down. Thanks for the help. 🙂

  6. eve

    I cut my nail last night accidentally while cooking dinner. So it’s deeper in the nail bed than a normal tear (more on the pink part than the white nail), and deeper down toward the skin (but it did not bleed). I also JUST got a gel manicure. Should I try this fix? I feel like I don’t have a choice b/c I can’t trim it down without ripping off live connected nail (ouch!), BUT I’m a little nervous about the glue seeping down to my skin underneath the nail (deeper knife cut). Any thoughts??? 🙂 Just hanging out with a bandaid for now. Thank you!!!! XO

  7. Briana

    This was easy and it worked!!! I was really nervous about what to do when my nails gets like this and I really, really wouldn’t want to pull it off. It would be painful!!! Thank you so much for this idea!!

    • Hello Briana! I’m glad this worked out for you. I agree it’s probably not a good idea to pull them off – when I can’t fix them I usually trim them as far down as I can without causing pain then wait (agonizingly) for it to grow out. Happy painting!

  8. YG

    This was super helpful! Ty so much! I used the tea bag method and loved it BUT I would like to recommend to really try to smooth it down as much as possible before painting the nail. It’s my first time doing it so it came out looking really weird lol but as long as it helps, then I am happy:). I just have one more question though, how can I removed a bit of the glue from my cuticle? Is that going to affect the grow out part of nail? Ty

    • Hello YG! I’m glad this helped you out and I completely agree smoothing the nail out before hand as much as possible is always helpful when doing broken nail repair. To remove nail glue from your skin just holding some acetone nail polish remover on the spot should do the trick. If not and it’s a thicker layer of glue you can buff it a little (try not to get your skin) then soak in warm water to loosen. Then acetone should remove it. Hope this helps!

      • YG

        Ty Black cat nails. I have one question do you think or have you tried putting gel on top of the teabag method to see if it last longer? I did the teabag method and lasted two weeks but broke again through the crack, so I just did it again, but I was thinking to go Saturday and put gel at the salon over it? Or even shellac?what do you think? Ty

        • No I actually have never even purchased a true gel nail polish. I bet that would work though – I am just afraid of the damage of soaking off the gel polish. I have incredibly thin nails!

  9. Jodie

    I just did the teabag trick as I had a slit right down my nail…coming from the side if that makes sense?! It’s gone to the nail bed 🙁
    Then I applied a rimmel super gel varnish and top coat which has gone on really well

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